Getting a “Real Camera”
Hi Omies! Meredith, here! I get this question a lot – a lot, a lot! People always ask, “I’d love to get more in to photography, what’s a good beginner camera, that takes great photos, but doesn’t cost too much?” This is especially common with new moms, or families heading somewhere fun on vacation. I am personally a major fan of my iPhone when I’m on the go. The new portrait mode on the iPhone 8 Plus & iPhone Xs is really pretty amazing. My iPhone was the only “camera” I brought when Kevin & I went to Vietnam! But I also understand when people want to focus more on taking a photo with a “real camera” – other than their phone.
After years of not having a solid answer for you (I am not a gear fanatic – which I have to preface this post because I am not an expert!!) I finally landed on a camera that I feel good about recommending!
Ask The Experts
I went in to my local camera store – Glazer’s – and asked first of all, what they would reccommend. This is still what I suggest to anyone thinking about buying a “real camera” because there are literally hundreds of options. Depending on what you’re looking for, how much you want to spend, and your base knowledge of photography – these all factor in on what you may decide to choose!
I thought about what I would consider important: fast, great auto focus, good in low light, great color right out of camera. You’ll want a camera that has interchangeable lenses because my number one tip for getting better looking photos is a lens that offers a low aperture.
Aperture: Size of lens opening, controls depth of field or “blurriness” behind or in front of the subject in focus. Low aperture = shallow depth of field (little in focus), high aperture = greater depth of field (lots in focus)
Cameras that have a lens attached may have great zoom, but those apertures usually don’t go lower than maybe 5.6. For reference, I almost never shoot over 2.8. You simply can’t have a lens with a lot of zoom AND low aperture. That’s why you’ll hear some photographers geek out over “prime lenses” (no zoom, a fixed focal length) because they love the quality of the glass.
Beginner Camera Brands
I personally shoot Nikon, but my friend at Glazer’s and I decided that the most beginner friendly brand would be Canon. Canon’s images are better straight out of the camera, and make some perfect beginner camera options. We’d suggest the Canon Rebel Series.
Canon EOS (Electro-Optical System) is an autofocus single-lens reflex camera (SLR) camera series. You can read more about this here.
The current edition of the Rebel we suggest (summer 2018) is the Rebel T7i. The difference between the T7 (stripped) and T7i (better) is quality & features of the camera. You buy the body only, and whatever lens you’d like. This kit is a great option! It includes an 18-55m zoom lens (great for portraits, not much zoom at all) with a 3.5-5.6 aperture (decent!). The body will run you around $750, and the kit around $800 depending on sales and offers.
How To Use It
So you got this fancy camera, and now you need to learn how to use it! I, for one, read manuals cover to cover, test all of the settings out and experiment. Experiment, experiment, experiment. There are tutorials & classes online, however this will all only get you so far. I am excited to be offering a photography 101 workshop for the Om Mama Community in 2019 (!!), but until then, I encourage you to stop shooting on Auto. If you’re not ready to go 100% manual, shoot on aperture priority. This will help you get the lighting you need, while making those creamy backgrounds your #1 priority!
But wait, there’s more!
There is also tons of software out there for editing, photo handling, etc. etc. etc. I suggest keeping it simple. Use the photo editing software pre-loaded into your computer and you should be good to go. Learn how to adjust the exposure, contrast, saturation, cropping, etc. how you like. When you’re ready to up-level, you can look into Adobe products – I personally use Lightroom, but you may not need to go there just yet!
I hope this was helpful for you! My main goal is for you to have fun and enjoy taking photos, and capturing memories! If you’re interested in hearing more tips, tricks, and when I’ll be offering workshops, be sure to sign up for my monthly Meredith McKee Photography newsletter!